Monday, March 21, 2011

Cyberbully, how they work. Even in small town USA.

Cyberbullies are not any different from a normal bully.  They are unhappy, blustering, overbearing, small minded individuals whose intent is to cause malice and harm through badgering and intimidation. The goal is to discredit and harm others through lies, intimidation and misuse of information.

You can stop their their mischief by not supporting their cause. Reporting the abuse using the "report" buttons, removing them and blocking them from your online sites.  Doing nothing does give them a sense of success and feeds the personal high they achieve by harming others.

A cyberbully has a whole arsenal of supplies to achieve their goals.  They can use social networking sites, online information data bases, online video and picture sites to target an individual. There are blogs and websites that automatically pull from YouTube and other websites any content based on descriptions and or tags - so information can be spread and shared at warp speed.


Bullies can keep it personal and use email, phone calls & text. But with the popularity of the internet, digital photography, videos and smart phones bullies can now take photos, edited video clips, or out of context pictures, video and information then add malicious statements and comments to spin a story that will suck in an audience.  It doesn't have to be true, doesn't have to have any truth in it - but if it has a picture attached it draws people in to look and to possibly believe what is stated. Some bullies will even use a shred of truth that is manipulated, i.e. "I have a stalker that drives slowly past my house 6 or 7 times a day". The bully leaves out the fact that the "stalker" is really a neighbor that lives next door and drives the residential speed limit past their home every time they leave the neighborhood. But,  not everyone will not stop and ask themselves if the picture or video really add up or know any of the personal players involved. A bully is well adept at the art of editing and altering both the facts and the images they are promoting. A picture or video, are easily altered with photo shop and/or other online editing sources. The altered image can then be used to support the verbiage attached.  A bully will ensure they never show the information and actions that helped insight a response or what was really going on when the images were captured. The bullies will only create a response to support their cause by using the tools of the trade to alter, add in or take away sound bytes, totally manipulating the information so that the situation will draw in an audience to support or victimize based on the bullies agenda. 

OK, so what, you say?  Not many people will see that. Or will they?
The art of online marketing is now used by our bullies.  Using catchy or trendy search names like "Jennifer Anniston", "Green Living", "Space Aliens", their content pull up in search engines.  Now they have a bigger market.  A prime example is the Jennifer Aniston Video to market water.  The video is set to play automatically anytime someone clicks on it - so even if you don't want to promote the video it will play & gain attention and support. More plays the more popular!

Marketing a video to get attention

But not everyone will know who they are talking about, will they?
Tags. You don't have to outright use a persons name & address to target them. Tags are identifying features you can use on almost all websites that allow you to add content.  A bully can learn personal and identifying information about you then add those tags to their content so that it will be linked to your online presence and/or personal information. Your name, address, work, etc., even in random order will now link back to their target.

Is that legal?
Yes. Anyone can take pictures of you, videos of you & use your information. Internet crime laws are vague and stalkers and bullies know this. Unless it is a crime or exploitation of a child the crimes are few and far between.   That being said there are some laws that prevent some of this as outlined in an earlier post, however, a lot of it is open to interpretation.  Also, anything put on the internet takes time to remove. The sites have to be checked, the information provided has to be researched and proven, then the laws have to be reviewed so the content can remain for weeks or even months before it's gone.  Also, if it is only reported by the person who is targeted then it will get little notice. Most sites require a minimum amount of complaints before it's even reviewed.  Making it more difficult is the fact that some sites only allow you to report an abuse if it is a violation against you. Also, as with the Jennifer Aniston video on some sites or videos when you click on them to report them they play & gain attention through viewings. This causes a Catch 22.

Now what?

Report, flag for abuse, block and request content to be removed.  Report the information to teachers and counselors if you are a student. If you are an adult report it to the proper authorities, police, internet crime services, and actual websites. You may have to do this more than once.  Take screen shots of the offending material. Send links to the authorities. They can document and make a report, even if there isn't an actual crime yet.  This helps protect you if it becomes a civil matter or the criminal lines get crossed. Just printing out the material isn't good enough - remember photo shop and/or editing services?  They can be used both ways so courts don't allow information that can be easily altered as evidence. However, having it witnessed and documented by the proper authorities does make for credible evidence. There are also online information storage companies that can protect and encrypt information as it was on a certain date & time.  Remember the bully can go in and alter, add to, take away or delete the information at anytime.

Keep things in perspective. Remember when viewing information online that just because someone uses words like:

Jealous, stalking, weird, unhappy, crazy etc...that the person using those words is most likely the one who is the perpetrator not the victim.  Be proactive and don't support malicious activity online.

Online and everywhere in your life be responsible and thoughtful.

More information against Cyberbully and online Harassment:

Family Safety
Steps on reporting abuse.
Kids & Teens - steps to know
McGruff puts a bite on bullies!

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